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How to Harvest Medicinal Roots : Dandelion & Valerian

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Fall is a great time to harvest medicinal roots.  Autumn is the time of year when the plant’s energies are focused back into the roots instead of the leaves and flowers, especially after a frost. Dandelion and Valerian are the two I’m going to be focused on this week as we get our first hard frosts.

Fall is the perfect time to harvest medicinal roots like dandelion and valerian for use in the home herbal medicine cabinet.

Dandelion Root

As any gardener knows, dandelion can be a bugger of a root to dig up.  Generally, speaking I get small little nubs of roots but plenty of them for drying.  It’s always easiest to dig them up in a softer garden bed than it is out of a lawn. Do the best you can to get a spade underneath and pull up what you can.

Once the root is harvested, it can be used fresh, after a good scrubbing. For long-term storage, it’s easy to dry: simply scrub, chop into pieces, and dry in a dehydrator until crisp.  Store in airtight container until ready to use.

Dandelion Root Uses

Dandelion is often considered a liver cleanser and helps rid the body of inflammation.  Make a tincture by simply covering the dried root with vodka (or grain alcohol) in a jar and letting sit for 6 weeks (shaking when you remember) and then strain.  Keep the tincture stored in a tightly sealed glass container until needed (I use beer bottles with the swing tops to store tinctures).

A tea is simply made by simmering the roots in water for 20-30 minutes before straining.

Overeat at the holiday buffet?  Take 10 drops of the tincture in water every hour until that sluggish feeling passes.

It’s even good for your pets and barnyard animals for the same reasons it’s good for us – helps with digestion and cleanses the liver.

Cautions: Dandelion should be avoided by folks with ulcers and bowel & gallstone issues.  Also, avoid when taking antibiotics.

Valerian Root

I purposely grow valerian in my garden and only dig up a small portion each year so that it regenerates for next year.  If you harvest from the wild, please do so responsibly.  Like dandelion, give the roots a scrub and use fresh or dry.

Valerian Root Uses

Valerian can be used as a tea and tincture made in the same manner as dandelion and is most often used as a way to soothe anxiety and promote sleep.  It’s exactly how we use it in our home medicine chest – to promote sleep during bouts of insomnia.  We keep a bottle of tincture handy and when insomnia strikes, simply put a few drops under the tongue and it usually doesn’t take long before sleep comes.

Cautions: Valerian is generally considered safe but can cause stomach upset in some people.  However, it is recommended that pregnant & nursing women avoid Valerian.

Harvesting medicinal roots is easy and a great way to build up the home herbal medicine chest.  What roots are you harvesting and using this fall?

Make the most of fall's healing roots by making dandelion root infused honey to help the body flush toxins and aid digestion.

Fall is the perfect time to harvest medicinal roots like dandelion and valerian for use in the home herbal medicine cabinet. Fall is the perfect time to harvest medicinal roots like dandelion and valerian for use in the home herbal medicine cabinet.

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Peta Nicklin

Monday 24th of May 2021

Thanks for the tips very interesting will definitely try it

Karen

Wednesday 22nd of May 2019

When taking it for sleep how much? And what can you or should you eat after taking valerian for the night.

Kathie Lapcevic

Thursday 23rd of May 2019

For adults one dropper full is likely to be enough - though for myself that's actually a bit too strong. Try 1/2 a dropper full and see if that's enough. Take it 30 minutes to an hour before bed and I wouldn't eat after that... PS: I'm not a doctor and talking to a local herbalist or health practitioner is always wise.

Bill

Wednesday 15th of May 2019

Turn a box (window) fan face down with screen on top, place products on top while running fan at low speed for diy dehydrator.

Kristen Lewis

Friday 12th of February 2021

@Bill, That is the best idea! Thanks, I will definitely be using this,as well as letting others know!🌬️🏵️🌼🌻🥀

geo

Sunday 7th of April 2019

searched google for how to dry fesh valerian, this came up, says nothing about what i searched for...

Kathie Lapcevic

Sunday 7th of April 2019

If you're trying to dry the valerian root do in the same manner as dandelion roots mentioned in the article. If you're wanting to dry the fresh leaves - see this article on drying herbs: https://homespunseasonalliving.com/dry-herbs/

Sammy

Friday 13th of April 2018

Is there another way to dry roots? I don't own a dehydrator and I can't afford one.

Kathie Lapcevic

Saturday 14th of April 2018

You could try an oven on the lowest possible setting. Keep a very close eye on it.

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